Ballard County is investing in a plan it hopes will bring more people and money to the community.
"It's a struggle to stay open sometimes, but we're still here. And there's a lot of shops that are still here, because we know something great is coming," said Ballard County business owner Cindy Martin.
Martin hopes a plan Ballard County is investing $40,000 into is the answer she's has been waiting for. Ballard County Chamber of Commerce, Ballard County Economic Development and the county's fiscal court are partnering on the project with the goal of making the county a destination for tourists and businesses.
They are hiring a Paducah-based consulting company to help promote the county and all of its cities and businesses online. The goal is to attract people from all over and get them interested in visiting, moving or opening a businesses there.
Cindy Martin's favorite place is the flower and gift shop she has run in La Center for 20 years.
"I keep it full, not because we have tons of customers coming in every day, but because I believe in this area," Martin said.
She said keeping a business open in Ballard County can be a struggle.
"It's been very rough since Verso closed. We lost so many employees, not just the few hundred who work there, but all of the others who were in support of that company," Martin said.
Martin said the solution is to attract more people to the area. On Friday, county leaders announced a plan to do that. Consulting and destination branding group 20/20 Extreme will work with leaders to research the area for 14 weeks. Then, the company will figure out how to brand and promote the county online.
"We recognize that we have to have a presence on the internet. As a small chamber, our resources are limited," said Ballard County Chamber of Commerce Director Myra Hook.
Hook said the group will help build a website to highlight the county, its cities and businesses. "So, this is going to be an opportunity for our smaller businesses to have an internet presence like thy couldn't have before," Hook said.
"I don't know whether to cry or scream hallelujah," Martin said.
She's happy someone is finally taking action.
"They need to promote us, because we're worth it," Martin said.
During the research period, the groups involved want the community's input. They'll hold a series of seminars. The first is Sept. 7.
The branding will take six months. After that, the company will work with the county for two years to maintain the branding.
The $40,000 comes out of the general budget. The county and chamber are in the process of applying for a federal grant to help cover the costs.
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Paducah, KY 42003